Bernhard Goetz reluctantly appeared in court Monday to fight a civil lawsuit filed by the most severely injured of the four men he shot inside a Manhattan subway car 11 years ago.
The $50 million lawsuit filed by Darrell Cabey, who was paralyzed in the Dec. 22, 1984, shooting, is finally going to trial.
Judge Barry Salman dealt with evidentiary issues during a brief hearing in his chambers in Bronx state Supreme Court on Monday, and scheduled jury selection to begin Wednesday, attorney Ronald Kuby said.
Goetz said as he arrived at court that the trial was “something I don’t want to do, but I have to do it, I have to fight it, if I want to avoid a summary judgment.”
Cabey, now 30, slipped into a coma after being shot and suffered brain damage. He now has the mental capacity of an 8-year-old.
His case is simple: Goetz was a racist who overreacted when he needlessly shot the four black youths, who were simply panhandling. After wounding Cabey, Goetz walked up to the bleeding youth and delivered the paralyzing gunshot, announcing, “You don’t look too bad, here’s another.”
Goetz’s defense is just as plain: He fired in self-defense when approached by four menacing muggers who tried to shake him down for $5. He declined to expound on that when reached by telephone last week, saying he was “too busy” to talk.
Goetz, 48, was acquitted of attempted murder in a 1987 trial but spent 8-1/2 months in jail on a weapons conviction.
Kuby is handling Cabey’s lawsuit alone after the death last year of his longtime partner, William Kunstler.
“The poignancy of this case is going through the files, seeing Bill’s notes, suggestions and writings,” Kuby said. “The only sad thing about this case taking so long is that Bill isn’t here as lead counsel.”